Economy

‘NISE lacked adequate testing equipment from 2015 to 2018’

Twesh Mishra New Delhi | Updated on June 05, 2020 Published on June 05, 2020

Solar projects worth ₹55,000 crore may be affected; govt body denies charge

Concerns have been raised about the veracity of tests conducted at the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) for certifying solar energy generation equipment from 2015 to 2018.

This is significant because about 10 GW of solar generation capacity deployed in India has certification that can be linked back to being issued by NISE during this period. This accounts for around one-third of all solar power generation capacity currently deployed in the country.

According to estimates by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the average installed cost of utility scale solar projects in India during 2018 was at ₹5.5 crore per MW. By that estimate, the quality of solar energy projects worth around ₹55,000 crore is now under question.

“The government allows module manufacturers to sell solar modules complying and meeting the requirements of International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)/Indian Standard (IS) by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accredited approved labs. Apart from this, the government has launched the BIS Scheme, wherein all solar panels who were selling into India must be BIS approved,” an official at a domestic cell and module manufacturer told BusinessLine.

Industry insiders said that, from 2015 to 2018, NISE did not have the adequate tools and equipment that are necessary to register with BIS or NABL. Despite the shortcomings, NISE continued testing solar modules under IEC 61215 Ed-2, IEC 61730-1 and IEC 61730-2 certifications.

Necessary components

A critical component of the test process is to measure the impact of UV rays on modules. The radiometer used to measure the UV was not calibrated. Further, this equipment had no proper testing parameters (like uniformity of temperature, proper UV wavelength measurement among others), officials said. NISE had also lacked high voltage test equipment and calibrated environment chambers to enable appropriate certification of the modules. This required equipment was procured as late as 2018, but many tests had been conducted till then. However, NISE contested this observation.

“The observation is not correct. UV testing of the modules was not in the scope of NABL and the same was being reflected in the test report. All the equipment pertaining to NABL scope including high voltage tester and environmental chamber were in order and calibrated,” it said in response to an emailed query from BusinessLine.

It added, “The UV testing was also done with full satisfaction to the test requirement, however, it was not accepted by NABL experts. Accordingly, the new UV chamber was processed for procurement. Due to the above, NISE was issuing the test report and no certificate was issued.”

“The certificate is issued by the concerned authority only once the manufacturer submits the clear test report having all the tests conducted from NABL accredited lab. Attributing the deployment of 10 GW solar projects in the country with NISE certification is irrelevant. NISE does not agree with your contention,” the statement added.

Published on June 05, 2020
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